Week One Musings

 Posted by at 2:22 PM  Add comments
Oct 152011
 

One week of hockey in the books; it’s great to have it back. This week has had no shortage of surprises as some pre-season favorites have stumbled out of the blocks while several unexpected teams have come out flying. Here are some points to consider from the first week of the NHL regular season.

-Today Sidney Crosby was finally cleared for contact during practice. This is a significant sign that it will be sooner rather then later that we see the best player on earth back in meaningful games. It also is good news given Evgeni Malkin’s recent ‘lower body injury’. News is that it is due to a blocking a shot with his skate, and has nothing to do with his bum knees. That at least is reassuring.

-Staying with Pittsburgh, Kris Letang showed some big time skill through the first week of the season. He currently has 1 goal, 5 assists, and a +4 rating through 4 Crosby-less games this season. Oh yea, and he is pretty good in the shootout.

-With all of their big off-season acquisitions I honestly did not think that Buffalo would be able to gel early in the season. Boy was I off the mark. Buffalo has looked impressive with two victories, outscoring their opponents 8 to 3. Ville Leino looks comfortable playing at centre ice while Christian Ehrhoff continues to look threatening with the man advantage. With Miller in net Buffalo could be playing well into the spring. A new locker room goes a long way in making the players feel appreciated.

-Toronto and Colorado are the two most surprising teams for me this season. I expected the Leafs to be an improved club, but they looked damn impressive in their win over the Canadiens. Phil Kessel has clearly used the off season to improve his two way play and finally looks like the superstar Brian Burke thought he was getting from Boston. I just flat out expected the Avalanche to be bad this year. However the steep price they paid for Semyon Varlamov seems to have been worth it. That being said, I still expect the Avalanche to finish among the bottom feeders of the incredibly competitive Western Conference.

-On the flip side the reigning finalist Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks have both stumbled out of the gate. The Bruins appear to be suffering a Stanley Cup Hangover while the Canucks are afflicted by poor goal tending. Cory Schneider looked impressive in his one start but Roberto Luongo has been horrible. Both teams will turn it around despite the slow starts.

-I have always heard the Philadelphia sports fans were an… interesting bunch, but booing a cancer commercial because a rival is featured in it. Really?

-Despite its lopsided score the Jets home opener was a darn good hockey game to watch. As a Canadian I was pumped to see the MTS Center packed to capacity. That building looks like it will be extremely intimidating to play in. Gary Bettman must have enjoyed the ovation he got, it sure does not happen often.

-With the Jets now back in Winnipeg talk has shifted towards next season’s impending re-alignment. As Jason notes in his article, Detroit moving to the Southeast simply does not make sense.

-A little over a week ago all the talk in LA was about how they needed to get their ‘best’ player signed to a deal. Well, it may only be a small sample size but Anze Kopitar has picked up where he left off last season and is going to give Drew Doughty a serious run for that title. He looks like a superstar out there.

-Everybody knew Ottawa was going to go through some rough patches this year. Right off the bat we are seeing the difficulties a new coach can have implementing a new system. While I am a believer of the ‘puck posession’ style that Paul MacLean is trying to put in place, I do not think the Senators have the personnel to make it work.

-Staying with Ottawa, Nikita Filatov has already been demoted to the AHL. This may be the final straw that sends him packing to the KHL for good. I hope I am wrong as he still possesses amazing potential.

-I have been reading a lot of articles lately discussing whether or not Alex Ovechkin has peaked as a hockey player. Many of these point to last season’s disappointment as proof that he does not have another gear to go to. It is far too early to tell if we will see more of the same this year, but I have no doubt in my mind that Ovechkin has numerous awards in his future, including a Stanley Cup.

-I will finish with a look at a trio of youngsters. Tyler Seguin has come out flying this season fresh off of his rookie/Stanley Cup winning season. With David Krejci injured he now has a real opportunity to stick in the top 6. Al Montoya has been turning heads (at least mine!) in Long Island in this young season. He has played lights out, a clear step above the veteran tenders behind him. He has the confidence of coach Jack Capuano and should get a lot of starts this season. Finally, one of my favorite prospects is currently watching the NHL season kick off from his house like you or I. Kyle Turris, for whatever daft reason, has decided to play hardball with the Coyotes and hold out for a large contract. This is a no win situation for him. The Coyotes are not a team in a position to be pushed around by a player, let alone a guy like Turris. He has shown nothing on the ice to justify his contract demands. What he really needs to do is sign a one year contract and prove himself. Right now he is on pace to miss a season of development while also making a reputation has a tough guy to deal with. These decisions could have significant effects down the road.

 

  6 Responses to “Week One Musings”

  1. I think this is the end for Filatov. I just can’t see him sticking around anymore, which is rather unfortunate since it looked like he had re-defined himself during the preseason.

    May I also add that Jose Theodore has been lights out for Florida? Wow.

  2. [...] the start, Kessel looks like a different player, or at least the player he can be in flashes. As Armchair Hockey wrote: “Phil Kessel has clearly used the off season to improve his two way play and finally looks [...]

  3. Florida’s team as a whole has played quite well. While a lot of people maligned some of the moves down there, one thing Dave Tallon did do was acquire solid NHLers. They should at least be competitive from night to night.

    I guess we will get to see how Filatov does in the KHL. Any motivation for him to try for the Sochi Games?

  4. Filatov would have to blow everyone away to be even considered for Sochi. I just don’t think he’s a very good hockey player right now.

  5. [...] the start, Kessel looks like a different player, or at least the player he can be in flashes. As Armchair Hockey wrote: “Phil Kessel has clearly used the off season to improve his two way play and finally looks [...]

  6. I don’t think he is very good either. But I am still interested to see how Sochi affects Russians over the next few years.

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